|Scene from Mulan|
"This is what you give me to work with? Well honey, I've seen worse."
So goes the opening line to Disney's 1998 film Mulan, which over the course of its opening song deconstructed the idea of what their franchise's "Disney Princess" could be. Through a sense of irony, a discomforted tomboy named Mulan prepares for a meeting to be judged on her looks and skills. There is no care for what she actually thinks, just that she follows tradition and bring "Honor to Us All." Over the next 20 years, Disney has done plenty to create female characters that are strong, independent, and break gender stereotypes in ways that have regenerated the studio's relevance. However, it was with Mulan that they created something special, something that not only showed that a woman could do a man's job, but that gender tropes go both ways. It's important to see your own reflection, your true identity, staring straight back at you. Disney may have harped on this matter several times, but rarely with the clarity and perfection as that of their fiercest, most exciting movie that they've ever released.